Snowden Speaks at Free State Project's Liberty Forum in Libertarian NH
On February 20, 2016, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed more than 500 attendees at the Free State Project's 9th annual NH Liberty Forum in Manchester, NH.
People gathered from across the globe to discuss practical ways to expand social and economic liberties. The conference also provided an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the Free Stater community in New Hampshire, where 20,000 libertarians are now moving.
Nick Gillespie of Reason TV interviewed Snowden live via Google Hangouts. Snowden was greeted by audience members holding masks bearing his likeness--this homage was received with a wide smile from Snowden in Russia.
During the 50 minute talk, Snowden covered several topics, including the recent revelations by Apple that the FBI has requested a “back door” to enable law enforcement authorities to access encrypted data on endpoint devices. Snowden also addressed a question submitted by Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, who has been sentenced to double life in prison without the possibility of parole. The question was: “Do you think the NSA could have been involved with the Silk Road investigation?” Watch the interview to hear Snowden’s stunning answer.
Liberty Forum has become a place where whistleblowers can tell their stories.
In 2014, Thomas Drake, former senior executive of the NSA and decorated U.S. Air Force and Navy veteran, spoke out about being accused under the Espionage Act of mishandling government documents. Although Drake eventually plead guilty to one misdemeanor count for exceeding "authorized use of a computer," all ten original charges were dropped. In his defense, Drake stated he refused to "plea bargain with the truth." Jesselyn Radack, who has served as Edward Snowden's attorney, called Drake's actions "civil disobedience." You can watch the panel discussion, "The Social and Civic Importance of Whistleblowing," with Thomas Drake, national security and human rights lawyer Jesselyn Radack, now of Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts, Trevor Timm of Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Devon Chaffee, executive director of New Hampshire's Civil Liberties Union.
This year, in addition to the historic talk by Edward Snowden, drone technician Cian Westmoreland was Liberty Forum's closing speaker. Westmoreland is one of 4 former U.S. Air Force servicemembers to claim targeted drone killings and remote-control bombings fuel the very terrorism the government says it is trying to destroy. In a 2015 interview with Democracy Now, Westmoreland said: "I’m saying it wasn’t all enemies. It was civilians, as well." Westmoreland's talk on Sunday was an emotional appeal to seek better solutions to indiscriminate drone bombings. When an audience member called out: "Skynet is coming!" Westmoreland replied: "Skynet is here." A video of Westmoreland's talk will be available soon.
The Free State Project is a 501c3 nonprofit that educates people about the advantages of smaller government and the advantages of moving to New Hampshire as part of the FSP, where, according to the Statement of Intent, movers will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of individuals’ rights to life, liberty and property. The work of creating and sustaining such a society in New Hampshire is the job of residents, including project participants, not the Free State Project itself. The FSP does not endorse any specific changes to government or strategies to achieve them. The FSP does not take positions on issues, candidates, legislation, places to move within New Hampshire, tactics or methods of action. The one stipulation the FSP does make is that people who promote violence, racial hatred, or bigotry are not welcome.